Jared Fialko

State should take a long look at LeVelle

Posted February 27

— From now until Dayton gets bounced from postseason play, NC State fans will likely be wishing, hoping and praying for Archie Miller to drown out the Jay Bilases of the world who suggest that he stay put in Ohio. The 2002 NCSU grad's been pegged as Pack nation's top pick to replace head men's basketball coach Mark Gottfried, ousted at the end of his sixth season in Raleigh. It would be a logical hire, if Miller's willing to leave, but with a fourth straight Big Dance berth in the Flyers' sights, the process is bound to get drawn out.

That being said, NC State Director of Athletics Debbie Yow and the univeristy brass should take a long look at someone else with deep Triangle ties: LeVelle Moton.

Mo, head coach at North Carolina Central University, might not sound as sexy of a get as someone from the Atlantic 10 like Miller, or even the Colonial's Kevin Keatts. But what Moton's accomplished in Durham speaks for itself. He took over a team that went 4-27 and brought them back above .500 just two years later, while in the midst of a transition to Division I MEAC. Four of his last five seasons, his squads straight dominated the league:

2012-13: 22-9 (15-1), Finished 2nd in MEAC

2013-14: 28-6 (15-1) Won MEAC Regular Season Championship and Conference Tournament

2014-15: 25-8 (16-0) Won MEAC Regular Season Championship

2016-17: 22-6 (13-1) Won MEAC Regular Season Championship

On the whole, he's gone 76-18 against the conference, half of those losses coming in the 2015-16 rebuilding year.

His teams have competed against, if not straight beaten, Power 5 conference schools on the road. His Eagles held their own at No. 11 Wichita State three years ago, No. 19 Maryland two years ago and Ohio State this year. They won at Missouri this season shortly after the Tigers pushed Xavier to the limit. Oh, and on Nov. 20, 2013, Moton's men also won, on the road, at PNC Arena.

Perhaps that win has blessed and cursed him, seeing as how beating NC State cost him a number of other future dates with coaches who suddenly no longer wanted to schedule North Carolina Central University.

The perceived biggest strikes against Moton? Recruiting, for one, in that he's never landed a four/five-star prospect. Setting aside the obvious, grandiose coup that he'd have to pull to get someone of that caliber to commit to play at the smaller school in Durham, Moton's gotten his share of talent. 2013-14 MEAC Player of the Year Jeremy Ingram signed under Moton's watch, and he convinced Emanuel Chapman to stick around close to home en route to becoming the Eagles' all-time assists leader. He also brought in Jordan Parks who was a strong candidate for the conference's Player of the Year Award in 2014-15 as well.

Secondly, Central's "low-major" status. As I mentioned earlier, it's perceived by many to be a "reach" for a coach to jump from the MEAC to the ACC, the best conference in college basketball. That's certainly not to say that other schools from other leagues haven't come a callin'.

Moton's name has been thrown around plenty, from gigs as an NBA assistant to associate head coach at a high-end program. He turned them all down. Partially because he feels he's deeply indebted to his alma mater, where he had a stellar career as a silky-smooth guard, and partially due to his love of this region. Born in Boston before relocating to Raleigh, he starred at Enloe High School. His family roots run deep here, so coaching in the Triangle has never been a stepping-stone scenario for him.

Which, in turn, makes him a great candidate for the gig. Who better to sell Raleigh than someone who legit loves Raleigh? And if you've never heard LeVelle speak, I can only assume he was a salesman in a previous lifetime. Moton's words are often powerful and poignant. His backstory is beyond inspiring. That's why I'd have zero doubts about his ability to recruit when put on a level playing field in terms of selling schools. Give LeVelle Moton the opportunity to go into a potential baller's home, and I guarantee he'll have him considering NC State. He's young enough to be able to connect with kids while still speaking in a manner that makes him seem wise beyond his 42 years. In that same vein, with a league that's trending younger with its recent hires (Danny Manning at Wake Forest, Josh Pastner at Georgia Tech), Moton makes sense for consideration.

He may be a long shot, but LeVelle's at least earned the opportunity to be taken seriously by State.

Currently listening to: LL Cool J - "Goin' Back to Cali." My go-to classic hip-hop song, which I had to recently recommend to a Triangle hoopster who shall remain nameless when I asked what he was bumping in his headphones postgame.

1 Comment

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  • Kevin O'Donnell Mar 14, 2017
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    Heckuva interview. "Corner cutter" - great phrase. Great comment. Put in the work and life handles itself.

    I hope State looks hard at him. The man has great character.

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